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UNIVERSITY OF SALFORD ECO HOUSE
 

Star date: 1st June 2010 

HERE'S ONE WE BUILT EARLIER IN LOWER BROUGHTON

"If those lads at the University can build a 100% replica of what we had I'd take it – and we'll get a parade and a band going down the street…" Ann

The University of Salford has announced plans to construct the "world's first energy house" in a sealed chamber, fully functioning and furnished so boffins can conduct the "most advanced energy experiments ever conducted on a residential property".

However, 25 years ago residents in the Lower Broughton streets of Ascension Road, Lord Street and Countess Grove moved into revolutionary energy saving houses also constructed by the University of Salford. They were demolished two years ago to make way for Countryside Properties' promised land of New Broughton. Here's what happened…

 Click here for full energy saving story…


THE DEATH OF INNOVATION IN LOWER BROUGHTON THE DEATH OF INNOVATION IN LOWER BROUGHTON THE DEATH OF INNOVATION IN LOWER BROUGHTON
THE DEATH OF INNOVATION IN LOWER BROUGHTON THE DEATH OF INNOVATION IN LOWER BROUGHTON THE DEATH OF INNOVATION IN LOWER BROUGHTON
THE DEATH OF INNOVATION IN LOWER BROUGHTON THE DEATH OF INNOVATION IN LOWER BROUGHTON
click image to enlarge

Just over 25 years ago council house residents in Lower Broughton were part of an experiment by the University of Salford to build the Brave New World of energy saving, fuel efficient houses. Around eighty homes were constructed just across from Ascension Church in Ascension Road, Lord Street and Countess Grove. The houses, by all accounts, were a success…

"We had concrete floors upstairs and downstairs, cavity wall insulation, double glazing, a downstairs loo with double flush toilets, your own driveway and your own garden" recalls Val Broadbent "People say that the houses were old fashioned because we didn't have radiators but we had a heating system specially designed for the houses because they were so well insulated. We had wall heaters downstairs, I was there for 23 years and they were never a problem, they were always warm enough. They were energy efficient and we were happy there."

These, apparently, were the last council houses Salford City Council ever built and they were designed to look forward to a bright new scientific future where non decent homes were a thing of the past. Two years ago all the houses were demolished. They were demolished, not because they were a scientific failure, but because they were in the way of a Countryside Properties led `regeneration' development for a `New Broughton'. A £500 million project to build 3500 homes which is going horribly wrong.

Last year the Government had to bail out New Broughton with £8million `Kickstart' funding, and homes that were meant for private sale have been handed over to housing associations for social rent. Val and Ann were moved from their energy efficient homes in Phase 1 of the development. They've been in their New Broughton house for nearly three years and have seen progress go backwards.

"There's nothing ecologically special about these houses" says Val "It's freezing in the front room and the bills are no lower here than they were in my old house – but they should be because this is a two bedroom house and I had a three bedroom house before.

"It's noisy, and you need ear plugs if there's anyone else walking about upstairs" she adds "Energy saving? You get two lights in the front room and one light switch, so for the first few months I had to have big holes chunked out of my ceiling while they changed it so that I didn't have to have two lights on."

Meanwhile, the list of problems with the house goes on and on and on. Val takes a deep breath and begins…

"I had light switches missing, illegal plug sockets, a door put in the wrong way around, I've had to have a new sink in the toilet because it was full of chips, a new sink in the kitchen because the draining board wouldn't drain…I've had to have all the back dug up to put in a new drain to stop it flooding into the kitchen, and all the front dug up because they forgot to put the drain in…I've had five new ceilings in the kitchen…

"The house I had before had a brick built shed, with a tiled roof and interior lighting - here I've got a tin box with sliding doors that you can't open at the top of a ski slope `garden'. In the winter it ices up on the inside and when it defrosts it soaks everything in your shed – I've lost my power washer and my lawn mower, because none of them will work. I just want to see the end of it, I've had enough. They sorted it out for the phases after us but we were the guinea pigs, the mistakes - and no-one has got the courtesy to come back and put the mistakes right. So we have to live with it."

Twenty five years ago these ladies were the guinea pigs for the University's dream of progress. This time they are the guinea pigs for what they see as a dream of developer profits and bottom line accounting.

"CCTV in the car park was promised but we're being told now that if we want it we have to pay for the installation and upkeep" Val says " And the electric car park gates never work, and have been broken now for six weeks."

Ann feels the same about the houses…

"I was pleased to get in my house here because they had run the old area down so much…but it was the disappointment, the shock, that came after" she says "The kitchen wasn't finished, everybody had to wait nearly nine months for cupboards. And they put the first one in upside down. This flooring in the kitchen you can find in any doctors waiting room or on buses – Ring and Ride has got it, the only thing is that their's hasn't got a join down the middle…

"They're all trivial little complaints but you've left something much better to come to this…And everyone's saying `Oooh it's a brand new house' but it doesn't solve the problems" Ann adds "They said they were going to put a unit on the `playing' field so they could open it up for the community – there would be rugby, there'd be all sorts of things going on for the children…but it never happened. The field is like a mud bath, the children can't even play on it. It's just been one disappointment after the other – it would have been alright if we'd got what we were promised but we haven't."

And reflecting on the old University designed houses that the community had to leave behind she adds…

"We had energy efficient homes that we liked but they knocked them down because we were in the way of Countryside's regeneration…They were already there, built. They could have done their experiments on them. There was a whole row of them, never mind one in a sealed unit – they could have had the real thing. If those lads at the University can build a 100% replica of what we had I'd take it – we'll get a parade and a band going down the street!"

"It's just been such a disappointment" Val agrees "We'd spent twenty odd years in a house that was brand new when we went in, believing that's where we would spend the rest of our lives. So we spent money on them, thousands of pounds. And then it was like, `Get out of there, it's too good for you'. There was nothing wrong with them. We had energy saving homes. Why they couldn't keep them up and use them as an experiment I don't know."

And now the University of Salford is embarking on its latest venture into eco friendly homes with a purpose built replica terrace house.

"We need to find ways to make these old-build properties more efficient as they will continue to house people for generations to come" says Professor Steve Donnelly, Dean of the Faculty of Science, Engineering and Environment "But to cost-effectively retrofit old properties and make them as carbon-efficient as possible requires detailed and robust research."

He adds that the University is looking to find "innovative solutions". According to Val and Ann, who actually lived in one of the `innovative' houses, they had a solution. And then Salford Council knocked it down in the name of progress…

 

 

*You can see a fly through video of the University's sealed house here

 


 

mattymays wrote
at 08:59:06 on 22 December 2011
hi www.salfordstar.com-ers all the best to all of you - matt-mays
 
ian obrien wrote
at 07:18:03 on 21 November 2011
Out of interest these weren't the first experimental, low energy homes designed and built by Salford University. Back in the mid eighties several were built in our strett - Strawberry Hill - which is off Frederick Road and backs onto the university (not to be confused with Strawberry Road, which is further up). These houses are still standing, though converted to normal homes now. At the time there was a lot of publicity and Margarat Thatcher herself came to officially open them. At the time and if I recall correctly it was said they cost around d 50 pence a week to heat. We kids living on Strawberry Hill were lucky in that we were able to befriend the African families of students who lived there for a while before the project went pear shaped and the machinery which heated them was quietly dismantled. I believe something went wrong and a small baby was hospitalised. They families were shipped out, never to be heard of again and the project was hushed up. Thus will all be on record somewhere and the houses are there to this day. In fact they were featured in an episode if tomorrows world.
 
debbie wrote
at 15:19:38 on 10 June 2010
You have been had by con merchants wearing suits, and the sad thing is nobody backed you until it was too late. New movers beware of men in suits
 
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